Train the heart, not the head; not the outward behavior, but the inner person. When we rely on sure-fire, idealistic methods we produce idealistic, self-righteous, disingenuous children. They look good on the outside, but inwardly they are Pharisees. Charles Spurgeon understood the biggest danger with being self-righteous when he said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”
And don’t think Pharisees are easy to spot. They are not. Jesus said that the wheat and the tares all look alike. When it comes to your own children, you will not be objective enough to make the call as to whether or not they are truly regenerated. The better you train them in this way, the better they look. Personally, I trained my own children in this manner, but I thank God that I wasn’t good at it, and that it didn’t take. They are unsaved and have manifested that reality by being in the world. By God’s sovereign hand, I am burdened to pray for their salvation. Had I been good at this kind of training, I probably would not know how to pray for them, thinking them saved.
Rather than training the outward behavior, learn how to wisely expose what lurks within your child’s sinful heart and point him to Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. Even the hearts of the young are desperately wicked, deceiving both their possessor and those who look on. It takes wisdom from the Lord to do this work. It is neither painless nor always pleasant. Sin does not give up easily. It is an impossible task without God’s intervening, both in your training and in their hearts. (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 6:1-4)
Urge your child to place his faith in the One who never fails and help him to understand, particularly by your example, that you trust Christ in this way. (Psalm 78:1-7; 2 Timothy 1:12)
Volunteer to wash the saint’s feet. Christ commands it. And if you think that serving your child is serving the body of Christ, think again. Your child is not a part of the church until he is redeemed, and you will not know that to any degree until he begins to make his own choices as an adolescent or even as an adult. (My children were well behaved and obedient and all made professions of faith as children. We know now that those were only professions.) If you serve only your child, he will think that he is the center of your universe. And if you serve him only, to the neglect of the saints, he is your universe. He must see otherwise that your center is Christ. And that happens when he becomes aware that your first love and loyalty is to Christ, not to him, as you obey by serving God’s people. (1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:10)
Welcome your children’s gifts. Jesus welcomed the loaves and fishes of the small boy and as a result thousands were fed. Imagine what that did for the boy. I am sure we will see him in glory. One gift your child will grace you with is your own training as God uses him to make you more like Christ. Children do not come with instructions; rather they come with lessons to be learned by you. (John 6:8-9)
EXpect the unexpected. Trials are inevitable. Neither parent nor child is exempt from trials which come in many forms including physical or spiritual health, finances, and more. Do not be surprised. Rather, “consider it all joy, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” For me, the unexpected came when my children all, one by one turned away from Christ. I think had I not taken their salvation for granted, I would have prayed soberly and been less confident in my methods. (1 Peter 3:12; James 1:2-4)
Yes…Say “yes” to your child whenever possible. Yield to his requests without reproach in whatever he asks if it is within your power and if it is something reasonable and worthy of giving. This is not indulgence for if the request is not good for the child, you must say no. Our Heavenly Father gives to us likewise, if we ask according to His will. (1 John 5:14-15)
Zenith…Make Christ the zenith of your love and devotion. As humility begins in Christ, your Alpha, so its culmination is also in Him. Look to none other, nor trust yourself, for it is only in Christ that we can conquer our prideful hearts. Only in Him can we live humbly before our God and others. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you. But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)What would you add to these thoughts concerning your own experience in raising your children in an attitude of humility?
Copyright Sharon Kaufman 2007/2010